Sleepless in Campbell

Photo by Melissa Masinter of M&M Photography


I lay here in the dark considering a weird dream that left me confused and disoriented. I was on stage but lost my voice and someone vaguely familiar threw a tomato at me. Was that really necessary? Regardless, I can’t go back to sleep, I have a raging head cold, and waves of inconsequential matters keep drifting in and out of my belabored mind. I stagger back and forth from bed to kitchen scavenging for cough drops, tissues, and Mucinex, the dog shadowing my every move. 
From the kitchen window I stop and admire the super moon. It appears surreal and for a brief moment I want to believe God made it just for me. I must have dozed off at some point because I woke up with a sore throat, raw nose, and somehow a tissue ended up in my water glass. We can send a person to the moon but we can’t solve the common cold? Clearly NASA needs to diversify. 

When life comes crashing down, and it will, I am astonished at how unprepared I am for the impact. It takes approximately three triggers to form a critical mass and when linked together they take me down, sort of like the trinity, but of hell. Sick, tired, ridiculed, and I’m the Titanic, minus Leonardo DiCaprio, which is a doggone shame because, “all good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath,” claims Scott Fitzgerald. You think it would be easy to discover what is blinding you but it’s not. I hate the feeling of despondency, it overshadows my joy, and I have the urge to hibernate in bed with a huge bowl of popcorn, watching Meryl Streep films, “that’s all.” 

Sometimes it feels as if God dumped us on this planet and said fight instead of procreate. What the hell is going on? Everyone is either angry, anxious, or an asshole (sorry, but it is the perfect word). I see it everywhere, not just in myself, a general callousness to the plight of others. It’s as if we’re engaged in some sort of modern day tribal warfare based on the car you drive, tweets, what’s in your recycle bin, and what you worship (Gods, dogs, or credit cards). 

Yesterday a Porsche (not my tribe) wanted to pass me so badly on Leigh Avenue he practically took out an old lady in the crosswalk carrying one of those rat dogs in her purse. She flipped him the birdie and I’ll admit it was the best part of my day. It’s reflective of the current zombie craze where the living have to fight to sustain themselves against the walking dead. The worst part of this whole zombie phenomenon is there is no safe harbor. These are the thoughts that come to me when I can’t sleep. You’re welcome.

I know, I know, life is a voyage not a harbor, but we all need a safe place to rest, refuel, and sojourn especially after a storm. There is never a point of arrival – only a point of departure observes Michelangelo, but he was a painter, so keep that in mind. Sometimes I’m sailing along, not a care in the world, when I hit an unexpected wall, like Jim Carey in The Truman Show. But that might be our escape, right through the door of imagination, and into a new reality. 

I tend to withdrawal when overwhelmed so it’s a good thing I love to write. With no formal training, I’m only trying to please myself, and admittedly I’m easily entertained. I suppose one of the reasons I’m so enamored with this practice is all the time I get to spend alone. How sad is that? Not so says Agnes Martin, “I have to have my mind to myself because when I’m with other people my mind is not my own.” I call it grace because I’m subtly altered by the experience of simply putting my thoughts into words. It is the safest place I know to exist. Jalaluddin Rumi says, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” To me this is scriptural, eternal, incorruptible truth.

“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed” Ernest Hemingway

I admit I seriously question my blogging practice at least once a month. It takes so much time, it’s not going anywhere, and what eternal good comes from stringing words together and blasting a link on Twitter or Facebook? Thank you for stating the obvious but I’m all about denial and positive self-talk. I like to live in my own world, I probably need therapy, but I call what I am normal. The practicalities of life get left behind when I’m seized by the words. It annoys my roommate to no end but I’m not sure that’s totally my issue? Wait, the tomato, no, not possible.


The truth is I’m not interested in a life without writing and think of all the money I’ve saved on gym memberships. It would be like putting size eight shoes on my size ten feet and expecting me to run a marathon, every damn step would be painful, and what does that accomplish? Exactly, bunions. As you know I prefer the Hygge lifestyle, free of tedious drama, and insipid tension. I want my writing to resonate so deeply, “the effect of which produces mysterious and highly potent shocks of recognition,” notes John Gruen. In the end I write about what I feel, if I want humor, I have to have laughter in my heart. If I want truth I have to soak undistracted in these suds until the words come to mind. 

I was trying to remember how I got hooked on words in the first place? I believe it was a Hail Mary piece of fiction I wrote in the first or second grade. I failed to read a short novel of my choice for a report due the next day so I wrote a book report on a completely made up story. I got all caught up in the details, characters, and plot. It was extraordinary tale involving a dog, a girl, and a journey, loosely based on the tale of Little Red Riding Hood. I think the dog died in the end, it was all very dramatic, and predictable. The teacher gave me an A+ and asked me to read it out loud to the class. The best part was no one could contradict my premise as the novel did not exist. One of the girls in the back of the class cried and right then and there I fell in love with the words. I wonder if I saved a copy of that piece? 

Brene Brown says, “I’m going to keep standing up for what I believe in, I’m going to keep leaning in with curiosity, questions, conversation, because I’m working from a premise that I’m inextricably connected to that person by something greater than me,” on disagreeing with loved ones and avoiding tomatoes. Larry places a cup of coffee softly on the nightstand, we’re still not talking, but I sense some sort of truce has been established. Standing your ground, trusting your voice, defining your passion is our only defensible position.  

It’s getting light outside, time to wrap up my thoughts, and hit the shower. I have girls to teach, co-workers to enjoy, and papers to grade as Truman’s words float to the surface of my mind “and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.”




“Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing” Benjamin Franklin




The fun begins in the comments. I’m Living in the Gap, drop in anytime.

7 Comments

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  1. Writing a report on a made up story that got you an A+ in 1st or 2nd grade is quite impressive! I have a 1st and 2nd grader, and they both can play pretend like no ones business, but ask them to write a paragraph (on a known topic at that), and they are lost.

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  2. Thanks for reading and commenting Sam! I could have been in third grade at the time but the memory of validation is so strong all else fades away. It was a defining moment for me and the best part is she may have been on to me? I'll never know, but writing is such a part of me now, entwined is a good word, I can't understand myself without it.

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